With more and more boomers joining the ranks of the unemployed—added to the growing number of retirees whose portfolios have diminished (or disappeared)—we see a large block of “older” people searching for work. Actually, many of this older group are looking to become entrepreneurs…to experience that nagging drive to start a business that they ignored when they were in a comfortable job, or had all the retirement money they thought they would ever need. But, what chance does this older group stand against the energetic, well-educated, and creative younger entrepreneur?
Well, quite good actually. Consider if you will, that Herb Kelleher was 40 when he started Southwest Airlines; Gary Burrell was 52 when he cofounded Garmin; Harlan Sanders was 65 when he started franchising KFC; and entrepreneur Mortimer Levitt’s last book was titled “96 And Too Busy to Die” (he wrote his first book “How to Start a Business Without Losing Your Shirt” when he was 75).
Not to discourage young entrepreneurs—they are the key to America’s business future—but entrepreneurship does not belong just to the young. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurial Activity reports that there are twice as many business founders over 50 than there are under 25.
To be successful, an entrepreneur does not need to produce an earth shaking new product that will change the lives of mankind. Richard Branson did not invent a new product, he improved a process, and Fred Smith simply improved how packages were delivered. Just because you don’t invent a new high tech gadget does not mean you won’t be successful. You can certainly replicate businesses that are already successful (that’s what franchising is all about). Or, you can simply turn your dream into a successful business, like Fraser Doherty (SuperJam), or Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow (Bacon Salt). There are no limits to imagination.
So, there you are…anyone of any age can start a business based on whatever their dream is. Don’t be intimidated because you have never started a business—there is lots of help available…and never tell yourself you’re too old to start a business (or too young for that matter).